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Standing Against the Forces of Darkness

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It's a week into the new school year and Giles has realized that his Slayer is MIA and something is very seriously wrong. And not just with his Slayer being missing but with the whole town of Sunnydale. His phone calls to the Council are frustrating exercises in futility. Apparently Quentin Travers had decided to take a vacation with very strict instructions to not be disturbed for any reason whatsoever. For the first time, Giles wishes that he had followed in his Grandmother's footsteps from the start instead of rebelling in his youth.

When Giles finally makes contact with Travers on the thirteenth day, when it's clear that the Sleeper has not only awaken but has also arisen. And some of the cleverer students have started working with him in lieu of the Slayer. He had saved Oz's life and in turn he had brought in a few others like Larry, Amy, Nancy and Willow. While the small band of teenagers aren't the same as having a Slayer, it's been better than trying to stand against the forces of darkness on his own.

Quentin's voice is jovial and Giles wishes he was back home just so he could punch the elder man's smug face.

"Hello Rupert old fellow, I hear that you've been truing to contact me,."

"Indeed," Giles replies, his tone terse.

He had just finished reading an article in The Sunnydale Herald about how a local group of concerned parents had asked the Mayor and the Council to do something the sudden increase in runaways and dead citizens. The Mayor was quoted as having said that Sunnydale was a transient town and that there was nothing to worry about. Many kids were inspired to run away to the bright lights of LA but most would be back home, safe and sound, before too long. The photo of the Mayor accompanying the article had shown a man who was smug and without a care. Giles suspected that perhaps the Mayor knew more about the true nature of Sunnydale and was somehow involved. No one could look that pleased when commenting on such dire news unless they were demonic or evil themselves.

The article had not left him in a good moon when the phone had rang. Quentin's voice obliterated any hope that Giles would be feeling any better.

"If I'd known than you'd need such guidance, I would have chosen someone else for the job," Quentin tells him, his voice getting colder.

"Tell me Quentin, how can I do my job when my Slayer is currently missing?" Giles asks.

"Whatever are you talking about? Our records indicate that Joyce Summers has moved to town and started working in the art gallery."

Giles rubs his forehead. He knows that the Council had offered Buffy's mother a position at an art gallery in town with a salary that was far better than it should be. And he knew that Joyce Summers was in town but her daughter was not. He tries to figure out a way to tell Travers the news diplomatically. Apparently Travers' sources aren't as good as they ought to be. This would never had happened when his Grandmother - or even his Father - was sitting in Travers's seat.

"That may be the case, but she moved here by herself. No child in sight," Giles tells him. "Furthermore, Joyce was reported missing a few days ago."

He doesn't bother to tell Travers that he had reached out to his personal contacts in LA to see if perhaps Buffy had stayed with her father in LA and had found out that the her parents had reported her missing just after the Council had lost contact with Merrick.

"What?" Travers shouts. "And why wasn't I informed?"

Giles is loathe to tell him the next bit of news so he does his best to soften the blow. He doesn't want to be the person to tell Quentin Travers that his hold on the Council isn't quite the stranglehold that he thought it was.

"Your receptionist told me that you were not to be disturbed under any circumstances."

He only feels slightly bad for telling tales and it's nothing but the truth. He had been firmly told that a missing Slayer was not an issue of concern. He had even spoken to Roger Wyndham-Pryce - a man he detested more than Quentin Travers - who had curtly told Giles to deal with it on his own. And that if he couldn't, well Roger had a son who would make a better Watcher than Giles could ever dream to be.

It may be petty but Giles wanted to see both Roger and Travers' receptionist taken down for their action. If he was a betting man and if he was in England, his money would be on Travers quelling the rebellion he was facing. As it was, Giles had more pressing concerns.

"Surely there was some misunderstanding," Travers begins to say.

Giles appreciates the fact that Travers isn't outright making accusations to a degree but he also doesn't appreciate that Travers would assume that this was Giles' fault. He'll never live down his past rebellion. He interrupts Travers before the other man can make things worse than they are. It's time to speak a little more plainer then.

"I thought that as well Quentin, which is why I called Roger Wyndham-Pryce but was told that a missing Slayer was a trifling affair and that I should figure it out on my own or be replaced."

Quentin's response is a shaky exhale of breath as Giles rushes to finish.

"Even when it became apparent that the prophecy about the Sleeper was on the verge of being fulfilled."

"Tell me that you managed to stop it, even without the Slayer."

"I was lucky to escape the carnage with my life. The Master walks freely amongst us. And I've sent faxes with updates from the local newspaper daily and even though the details are largely being downplayed, it's clear that things are very dire."

Giles leaves off a comment about how things weren't dire enough for anyone who received his reports to interrupt Travers' holiday or to even send a few Special Ops team members to help out. More than just Travers' receptionist and Wyndham-Pryce would have received the reports. It worries him that there's a coup going on within the Council and that the fools behind it think it's wise to let a vampire like the Master walk freely.

"What has been done?" Travers shouts.

"On the Council's end? Nothing," Giles flatly replies. "I've been patrolling and researching as much as I can."

He omits telling Travers about the fact that his only help has come from a fellow teacher, a group of teenagers and a vampire with a soul. Now is not the time.

"This is bloody unacceptable, Rupert, moving forward you will always be informed of how to contact me no matter what. In the meantime, I will have Collins assemble a team to assist you. And I'll get another team on finding our missing Slayer."

As he hangs up the phone, Giles worries about whether or not Quentin will be able to remain in power long enough to fulfill his promises. And even if he does, he fears it will be too late.

* * *

Another week passes and things are even more dire. News that the deadly vampires Spike and Drusilla have arrived in Sunnydale have reached Giles' ears. The Bronze has become the undisputed turf of the vampires, two of his own - Willow and Angel - are missing and Mayor Wilkins was found crucified on the lawn in front of City Hall.

Travers is on the phone again. He has clearly survived the attempt to dispose him as head of the Council but their daily conversations have been grim.

"Collins has said that there seems to be some metaphysical barrier blocking his team from getting into Sunnydale. The coven in Westbury is doing their best but we fear it may only be a matter of time before the barrier blocks anyone from getting in or out of the town. Especially if the coven keeps tampering with it."

"Very well," Giles tiredly replies.

"We will figure this out," Travers tells him. "Perhaps it's best that you leave town?"

"I can't," Giles says. "I have a team that replies on me to lead them."

He can hear the clink of glass upon glass and then the splashing of liquid as Travers pours something into the glass; Giles suspects it's high proof alcohol.

"I understand," Travers replies.

Travers doesn't order him to evacuate the team or himself out and Giles doesn't offer up that he has already tried to get Jenny and the teenagers out. Amy had been burnt up by the barrier that blocks most traffic in and out of the town. He does resolve to fax over pages from his actual journal. The one that hasn't left anything out. Travers needs to know the full situation.

* * *

Six months later and things are beyond grim. Anyone living in Sunnydale can't leave. The town is officially in quarantine but in reality people can't leave or enter the town. Food and other supplies are dropped off two miles outside of town and somehow those are still allowed in. Collins and his team never made it into Sunnydale or even back to England. It had made the national news that four bodies had been found in an abandoned church just outside of town. The national news had gone on and on about Satanic cults and ritual sacrifice.

Those in Sunnydale who haven't turned a blind eye to everything know it's vampires. Most people barricade themselves in their houses at night with crosses and garlic. Giles and a group of three brave teenagers are all that stand against the forces of darkness. When he found Jenny's corpse on one of the tables in the library, he had lost any hope that he had that he'd survive. All that matters now is ensuring that Nancy, Oz and Larry make it out of this hell hole to safety.

His phone rings in the middle of the night and he picks it up. He finds the sound of Travers's hello a welcome sound now.

"We found her!"

Giles doesn't need to ask who she is.

"Where is she?"

"Cleveland."

He almost laughs at the thought that she's been found on another Hellmouth. He doesn't bother to ask the how of it all. He doesn't really care.

"Is she coming?"

"Not yet," Travers tiredly tells him. "She's gone rogue. We have a Watcher there that's trying to build up a rapport with her but she'll never be a malleable Slayer."

"Very well," Giles replies.

"What do you need?"

There's a lot that Giles needs but none of it is worth mentioning. He sighs before responding.

"Just the normal allotment."

"Very well," Travers says. "I have faith that Jenkins will be able to get the job done."

He's almost consumed by dark thoughts but he manages to bite his tongue before he suggests the unspeakable. Even if another Slayer was called, it doesn't mean a thing. All he can do is hope that Buffy might be tamed enough to agree to come to Sunnydale before it's too late. He hangs up the phone.

Oz pads down the stairs and looks at Giles.

"I take it not good news?" Oz asks.

Giles shakes his head in denial. Oz sighs as he makes his way over to Giles. The younger man had been living with the Watcher since his own parents were murdered by a pair of vampires. Giles suspects it had something to do with Willow - who had been turned - but refuses to speak to Oz about his fears.

Oz lays a hand on Giles arm and the older man look sup at Oz. Just awoken from sleep, Oz looks incredibly younger than almost eighteen. And it makes Giles vow to do something to keep this boy safe from the darkness that lurks outside of his door.

 

((END))